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CIA Nominee Gina Haspel Wanted to Withdraw Amidst Scrutiny and Trump's Support
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7 May 2018 04:05 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Gina Haspel (Image Source: Public Domain)


Yet another Donald Trump-supported nominee for public office is facing scrutiny. Gina Haspel, the acting director of the CIA, faced much scrutiny in making her position permanent because of her support of techniques such as waterboarding. She has reportedly considered withdrawing her nomination while the president continues to support her.

Mike Pompeo faced much controversy in his bid to become the Secretary of State because he is in favor of using force over more diplomatic options among other reasons. He was eventually confirmed anyway.

Once he officially left his position as CIA director, Haspel, who was the CIA deputy director, became the acting director. If she is confirmed, she will become the first female CIA director.

On Friday she sought to withdraw her nomination because some in the White House are concerned her nomination could be problematic because of her position on using torture to interrogate terrorist suspects, according to four senior U.S. officials.

Haspel told the White House she would step aside to avoid what could become a difficult confirmation hearing on Wednesday, which could potentially damage both the CIA's and her reputation. She was questioned on Friday regarding her history with the interrogation program that uses techniques that include waterboarding.

She oversaw a secret CIA detention facility in Thailand in 2002. One al-Qaeda suspect was waterboarded and another was waterboarded before she arrived there. Three years later she was involved when the CIA destroyed nearly 100 videotapes that had recorded the two suspects' interrogations.

This led legislative affairs head Marc Short and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to head to Langley, Virginia, to speak with the acting director at her office. They talked for several hours, and it was unknown whether she would stick with the nomination or not.

Once Trump learned of her desire to pull out, he initially said he would support whatever decision was made but then pushed for her to stick it out. She indicated on Saturday that she would continue with her nomination.

"There has been a fascinating phenomenon over the last few weeks. Those who know the true Gina Haspel — who worked with her, who served with her, who helped her confront terrorism, Russia and countless other threats to our nation — they almost uniformly support her, said CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani.

"That is true for people who disagree about nearly everything else. There is a reason for that. When the American people finally have a chance to see the true Gina Haspel on Wednesday, they will understand why she is so admired and why she is and will be a great leader for this agency."

"She is the best of the best," Sanders said of Haspel, while describing her as a "patriot."

An administration official reported that the nomination was still on schedule. After a hearing prep session, there would be "courtesy calls with senators Monday and Tuesday, and classified material will be delivered to Senate security so senators can read the real record instead of relying on gossip and unfounded smears."

It's unknown what the chances are of Haspel being confirmed by the Senate because of the current party split and Sen. John McCain being absent while he undergoes treatment for brain cancer.

Democrats are looking to learn more about her role in the interrogation techniques, while Haspel is fearful of being "the next Ronny Jackson."

"There is no one more qualified to be the first woman to lead the CIA than 30+ year CIA veteran Gina Haspel," tweeted Sanders over the weekend. "Any Democrat who claims to support women's empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite." 

"My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists," tweeted Trump on Monday. "Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!"




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